Referral Banners

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

ScienceDaily: Top Environment News

Biologists partner bacterium with nitrogen gas to produce more, cleaner bioethanol

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 06:21 PM PST

Biologists believe they have found a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to increase bioethanol production by using nitrogen gas, the most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, in place of more costly industrial fertilizers. The discovery could save the industry millions of dollars and make cellulosic ethanol -- made from wood, grasses and inedible parts of plants -- more competitive with corn ethanol and gasoline.

Rivers might constitute just 20 percent of continental water flowing into oceans

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 01:07 PM PST

The Amazon, Nile and Mississippi are mighty rivers, but they and all their worldwide brethren might be a relative trickle compared with an unseen torrent below the surface. New research shows that rivers might constitute as little as 20 percent of the water that flows yearly into the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific Oceans from the continents. The rest flows through what is termed the 'subterranean estuary,' which some researchers think supply the lion's share of terrestrial nutrients to the oceans.

RNA: The unknotted strand of life

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 01:06 PM PST

It had never been verified before: unlike other biopolymers, RNA, the long strand that is 'cousin' to DNA, tends not to form knots.

Mercury levels in Hawaiian yellowfin tuna increasing

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 12:12 PM PST

Mercury concentrations in Hawaiian yellowfin tuna are increasing at a rate of 3.8 percent or more per year, according to a new study that suggests rising atmospheric levels of the toxin are to blame.

Tree species influence boreal forest fire behavior, subsequent effects on climate

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 11:48 AM PST

For a better understanding of how forest fires behave and interact with climate, scientists are turning to the trees. A new study shows that differences in individual tree species between Eurasia and North America alter the continental patterns of fire -- and that blazes burning the hottest actually cool the climate.

Toward the next biofuel: Secrets of Fistulifera solaris

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 11:11 AM PST

Biofuels are an attractive alternative to fossil fuels, but a key challenge in efforts to develop carbon-neutral, large-scale methods to produce biofuels is finding the right organism for the job. One emerging candidate is the microalga Fistulifera solaris. An international collaboration of scientists has revealed the genome of F. solaris and provided exciting hints at the roots of its ability to grow and produce oil at the same time.

Smoke from fires linked to tornado intensity

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 11:10 AM PST

Researchers have found that smoke from fires can intensify tornadoes. They examined the effects of smoke -- resulting from spring agricultural land-clearing fires in Central America -- transported across the Gulf of Mexico and encountering tornado conditions already in process in the United States.

Orangutans take the logging road

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 10:26 AM PST

'Foot' travel by Borneo's shaggy apes may be evolving more than initially thought, researchers have discovered. The Bornean orangutan not only regularly walks Wehea Forest floors to travel, but also hits newly constructed logging roads, researchers have observed.

Study supplies insight into behavior of African monsoon

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 10:26 AM PST

The African monsoon's response to climate forcing is more complicated than previously understood, new research indicates. Current climate models don't do a great job of simulating the complex mechanisms behind the changes. Understanding how the monsoon will respond to gradual increases in greenhouse gases will require a better understanding of the processes, authors of a new study report.

Friend, foe or queen? Study highlights the complexities of ant perception

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 10:26 AM PST

Researchers report that trap-jaw ants recognize the unique odor of a fertile queen only if the queen also shares the workers' own chemical cologne -- a distinctive blend of dozens of smelly, waxy compounds that coat the ants' bodies from head to tarsus. The discovery offers new insights into how social animals evolved and communicate with others in their group, the researchers say.

Getting yeast to pump up the protein production

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 10:26 AM PST

Researchers have genetically modified yeast to prevent it from metabolizing protein, leading to higher yields of an industrially useful product, they say. A unicellular microorganism, yeast is a top candidate for producing protein because it grows rapidly and needs few resources to thrive. But until now, the scientific community did not realize that yeast reabsorbs more than half of the protein it secretes.

Shrinking range of pikas in California mountains linked to climate change

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 09:37 AM PST

The American pika, a small animal with a big personality that has long delighted hikers and backpackers, is disappearing from low-elevation sites in California mountains, and the cause appears to be climate change, according to a new study. Pika populations were most likely to go locally extinct at sites with high summer temperatures and low habitat area.

Global warming slowdown: No systematic errors in climate models, comprehensive statistical analysis reveals

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:46 AM PST

Skeptics who still doubt anthropogenic climate change have now been stripped of one of their last-ditch arguments: It is true that there has been a warming hiatus and that the surface of Earth has warmed up much less rapidly since the turn of the millennium than all the relevant climate models had predicted. However, the gap between the calculated and measured warming is not due to systematic errors of the models, as the skeptics had suspected, but because there are always random fluctuations in Earth's climate, according to a comprehensive statistical analysis.

You can be a coward or a fighter -- just pick one and stick with it, says study

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:45 AM PST

When the chips are down, having a strong personality may be the difference between thriving and failing, according to new research that studied how aphids reacted when faced with predatory ladybirds. The study suggests that committing to a consistent behavioural type in times of crisis results in the best overall outcome in terms of fitness and reproductive success.

Actions, beliefs behind climate change stance

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:45 AM PST

Strategies for building support for climate change mitigation policies should go beyond attempts to improve the public's understanding of science according to new research. Using an online survey of climate change sceptics and believers living in the US, researchers measured differences between the two groups in terms of environmental behaviours, emotional responses, national and global identification and a number of other variables.

To speed up magma, add water

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:41 AM PST

Water dragged into Earth's interior helps melt rock, but near the Tonga trench there's the least magma where there's the most water. A three-dimensional seismic image of the mantle beneath the Lau Basin in the South Pacific has an intriguing anomaly. The image showed the least magma where the scientists expected to find the most. After considerable debate they concluded that magma with a high water content was flushed so rapidly that it wasn't showing up in the images.

Scientists view effect of whisker tickling on mouse brains

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 08:41 AM PST

Researchers have succeeded in peering into the brains of live mice with such precision that they were able to see how the position of specific proteins changed as memories were forged.

Cyanobacterium found in algae collection holds promise for biotech applications

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 07:57 AM PST

Cyanobacteria are attractive organisms for the bio-production of fuels, chemicals and drugs but have the drawback that most strains in common use grow slowly. Scientists now report that they have recovered a fast-growing strain of cyanobacteria from a stored culture of a cyanobacterium originally discovered in a creek on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin in 1955.

Turning up heat on plants could help grow crops of the future

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 07:56 AM PST

Crops that can thrive in warming climates are a step closer, thanks to new insights into how temperature and light affect plant development. Scientists studied the effect of light and temperature on seedlings of a small cress plant known as Arabidopsis. They were surprised to find that at high temperatures, light causes seedling stems to develop in the same way that they normally would in shade or darkness.

Bowhunting may have fostered social cohesion during the Neolithic

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 07:55 AM PST

Bowhunting during the Neolithic period may have been one of the pillars of unity as a group of primitive human societies. This is one of the main conclusions reached by a team of Spanish archaeologists that has analyzed the Neolithic bows found in the site of La Draga (Girona, Spain).

Deep ocean a source of dissolved iron in Central Pacific

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 07:55 AM PST

The deep ocean appears to be a major source of dissolved iron in the central Pacific Ocean. This finding highlights the vital role ocean mixing plays in determining whether deep sources of iron reach the surface-dwelling life that need it to survive.

Area-wide management a must for Asian citrus psyllid

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 07:55 AM PST

The Asian citrus psyllid can travel at least two kilometers in a twelve-day period, and they are able to traverse potential geographic barriers such as roads and fallow fields, research shows.

Improving health of marine life, coastal economies

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 07:53 AM PST

Sea turtles and coral reefs may hold the keys to improving Florida's offshore health and economy. Scientists are getting in on the ground floor of a new alliance that aims to improve the health of Tampa Bay's waters.

Fewer viral relics may be due to a less bloody evolutionary history

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 05:19 AM PST

Humans have fewer remnants of viral DNA in their genes compared to other mammals, a new study has found. This decrease could be because of reduced exposure to blood-borne viruses as humans evolved to use tools rather than biting during violent conflict and the hunting of animals.

New technique captures real-time diagnostic 3-D images

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 05:07 AM PST

A new technique uses Optical Projection Tomography, which is "similar to X-rays, but uses light," explains a researcher.  With this technique, it is possible to use optical markers which are often used with transgenic animals.  One such marker is green fluorescent protein.  Thanks to this substance, one can observe the anatomy and functions of living organisms like flies or very small fish.

Urban taste for bushmeat poses threat to Amazonian wildlife

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 05:07 AM PST

Alarming evidence of an under-reported wild-meat crisis in the heart of Amazonia has been uncovered by researchers who interviewed households in two Brazilian 'prefrontier' cities -- cities which are surrounded by more than 90 per cent of their original forest cover. They found virtually all urban households in these cities consumed wildlife for food, including fish (99%), bushmeat (mammals and birds; 79%), turtles and tortoises (48%) and caimans (28%).

Mini synthetic organism instead of test animals

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 05:06 AM PST

In medical research, animal-based experiments have thus far been a necessary evil. Now researchers have developed a highly promising alternative, however: They are developing a mini-organism inside a chip. This way, complex metabolic processes within the human body can be analyzed realistically.

Protein, skin care and biopesticide products developed from fish filleting residue, rapeseed press cakes

Posted: 02 Feb 2015 05:06 AM PST

Food industry co-streams could be upgraded to more valuable products than the original ones ending up as animal feed, scientists say after developing gentle methods to make good use of fish filleting residues and rapeseed press cakes.

Arsenic stubbornly taints many US wells, say new reports

Posted: 30 Jan 2015 06:14 PM PST

Naturally occurring arsenic in private wells threatens people in many US states and parts of Canada, according to a package of a dozen scientific papers. The studies, focused mainly on New England but applicable elsewhere, say private wells present continuing risks due to almost nonexistent regulation in most states, homeowner inaction and inadequate mitigation measures.

Transforming biochar into activated carbon

Posted: 30 Jan 2015 09:16 AM PST

It's about transforming corn stover, dried distillers grain solids and even native grasses into a product more than 1,000 times more valuable--graphene. A team of researchers is converting biochar into graphene which they hope can one day be used in place of expensive, activated carbon to coat the electrodes of supercapacitors.

Picking up on the smell of evolution: Researchers discover changes that let a species drastically change its lifestyle

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 02:04 PM PST

Some of the changes in genes, physiology and behavior that enable a species to drastically change its lifestyle in the course of evolution have been discovered by researchers.

No comments: